Having bariatric surgery is a big decision, considering the number of risks it involves. A patient goes through continuous pre-op and post-op guidance to make it a success. One of the biggest fears for a person who has undergone bariatric surgery is the weight regain. All those risks, all that anticipation, for nothing.
Any person affected by obesity has to understand that while bariatric surgery is a way out, it is not a matter of hours. People need rigorous maintenance to derive the expected benefits. One of the unfortunate things that happen to bariatric surgery patients is that they can gain the weight back easily. The most crucial period for weight regain is 12-18 months after the surgery. There are a lot of reasons that trigger weight gain.
The weight loss following a bariatric surgery ranges anywhere between 47% to 80% of the excess weight, and the regained percentage can vary between 15% to 25%. The stats can be a little disheartening for patients who nurture high expectations following the surgery. One of the drawbacks of the entire process is the fact that the patient continues to live in an obesogenic environment, even after the surgery. The surgery or the individual is not in power to control all the factors, and that leads to problematic results, including weight regain.
Immediate benefits do not last
Although the process of bariatric surgery is irreversible, the effects are not necessarily permanent. A study conducted by Dr. Andrei Keidar and his team in the Beilinson Hospital, Israel, examined the data of 443 LSG patients, which were managed by the same surgical team from 2006 to 2013. The findings indicated that the excess weight loss reported in a year was 77%, which then decreased to 56% after five years. The diabetes remission, which was promised at 51% after one year, decreased to 20% after five years.
Causes of weight regain
There are a lot of factors that contribute to weight-regain after bariatric surgery. The patient can slip off the dieting or exercise routine, and in some cases, it can be post-surgical complications. But more than anything else, weight regain is majorly a result of normal physiology. During a longer period of starvation, the human body is designed to store its energy reserves. After the surgery, when the body starts adjusting to the new digestive system, it begins to maximize energy absorption. That is one of the reasons that patients start gaining weight back.
Eating behaviors also contribute to weight regain after the surgery. Many patients take the surgery as the ultimate solution and resort to chaotic eating. There is no formal eating pattern, and the meals are not spaced throughout the day.
Some patients, trying hard to keep weight at a minimum, skip meals, which results in overeating later. Many patients also fail to identify better food choices, and they go for highly processed foods, which eventually makes them fall back to previous eating habits. Other eating problems prevalent in post-surgery patients include excessive portion eating, grazing, inadequate protein intake, alcohol intake, and mixing fluids with food.
How much weight can patients gain?
The weight gain by a patient depends upon the type of surgery they have undergone. In the case of restrictive surgeries like gastric sleeve surgery, or LAP-BAND, where the intake capacity of the stomach is reduced, the weight regained can be anywhere between 8-10% of the original weight. In addition to the capacity restriction surgeries, malabsorptive surgeries, like the duodenal switch surgery or gastric bypass surgery, change the way the body digests the food. Patients who undergo these procedures often gain less weight.
How to prevent weight regain?
Post-surgery, patients are required to manage the weight by following a strict food and exercise regime. Although exercise and controlled-eating can help obese people without surgery assistance, it is beneficial for patients to try losing weight first, even when they are only planning for the surgery. Patients who start early minimize the stress on their bodies and therefore start losing weight ahead of time.
Patients with less BMI will have to struggle less to keep the extra weight off afterward. Specifically, in cases where the patient is struggling with an eating disorder or addiction, it becomes paramount to start pursuing treatment before going for bariatric surgery. Drug addiction, alcoholism, and eating disorders are the top three culprits that interfere with metabolizing after bariatric surgery. Hence not only affecting the weight but also messing up the overall health. It is mandatory for the patients struggling with addiction to go for treatment, or else it does not take much time to fall back into old habits.
Bariatric Surgery is no magic.
Many patients think of bariatric surgery as the ultimate effortless weight loss solution. The truth is surgery might help you put off some pounds, but it is not a permanent solution. Even after the surgery, people need to eat smart and exercise under proper guidance. A patient is required to eat healthily and follow bariatric protocol for correct nutrition.
Bariatric surgery is considered successful when the patient retains 50% of the weight loss after five years of the actual procedure. Also, the variability in the process of surgery affects success. In many cases, patients have to go for revisional bariatric surgery, if needed. The drawbacks of the process are endless as the entire procedure is still evolving and lacks standardization, at least for now.
Bariatric surgeries are a big deal. The effects, good and bad, are permanent. Contrary to popular belief, these procedures are not a quick fix and should be considered the last resort. If you are obese and finding it hard to lose weight on your own, bariatric surgery might not be the only way. There are safer options, which can ensure better and permanent results, all without being invasive. At Be Better Bariatrics, patients can go for endoscopic procedures that not only help them achieve significant weight loss but can also make a worthwhile contribution to improve their overall health. All of this without scars or surgical complications.